Every great empire started from a single brick...sorry, did I say brick? I meant click. And with Civilization VI hitting our PCs on October 21st, there's never been a better time to begin planning for world domination.
Sid Meier's Civilization franchise has been hugely successful among fans of real-time strategy games; and the series itself has been around since 1991! That's 25 years, an incredible feat for a single franchise; though I suppose any great civilization must be built to stand the test of time...
A World Of Opportunity At Your Fingertips!
From the first moment, Civilization VI will take the player on a journey, as they carve their own path and build their empire from the ground up. However, the approach Civilization VI takes to this journey is vastly different from the approach taken by its predecessors, particularly the approach taken by Civilization V.
In Civilization V, players had a tendency to fall into a regular playstyle, often choosing the same civilization repeatedly, while also following a strategy which nearly always worked for that particular empire. This led to players sometimes feeling repetition in the game, as there was usually a winning strategy for each empire to follow. For example, Babylon were excellent at developing technologies quickly, allowing the player to rush to later eras of the game far ahead of their rivals! Trust me, having Babylon dropping nukes on your cities when you'd only just discovered how to make railroads really wasn't fun.
In a conversation with PC Gamer, Civilization VI's lead designer, Ed Beach, discussed this very issue. He said:
We noticed that there are certain key approaches that people all share in common. We're sort of in a rut, where all the players are playing Civ 5 the same way. Everyone says go for four cities, but probably not too much more than that. There are certain policy trees that are well worth it, other policy trees that they don't find that they're using.
He then followed up this statement by telling us how Civilization VI will remedy this issue, saying:
We want players to have to think on their feet more.We want a situation where you have to react to what the game is presenting for you. What the map is giving you, your starting position, what it means to have certain leaders next to you. It's all designed to provide a more varied, improvisational campaign.
Judging by this statement, it seems that Civilization VI will focus much more on the scenario given to the player in each individual game, instead of allowing players to become repetitive and habitual in their playstyle. This could provide an interesting dynamic to the game, as the player's start position and nearby resources determine the type of strategy they choose to follow. Though knowing my luck, I'll spawn in a sprawling, barren desert; I mean, at least I can make loads of sandcastles...right?
Districts! And No, They're Not Like The Ones From 'The Hunger Games'...
Civilization VI also boasts a brand new feature, the ability to build 'Districts'. Districts are specialised extensions of your main city tile, in which buildings of a particular type are built. For example, you may decide that you want to develop a strong production sector within your empire, and by building a production district, you may begin to build more advanced production structures such as factories and quarries.
However, the districts you construct will not just act as fancy places for your buildings to reside, but will vary their effectiveness based on their positioning. For example, a forest or mountain adjacent to your campus (science) district will provide bonuses to its output. However, a mountain would also be perfect for a religious district, providing a towering place of worship for your citizens (just ask the Greybeards from Skyrim, the tip of a mountain is an awesome place to master your shouts!). Therefore, the placement of districts becomes a puzzle to solve as your empire grows! If you build a science district by the mountains, will it neglect your religious sector? Maybe you should build the science district elsewhere? Or maybe you only need one of the two districts? All of these are questions you will have to ask yourself as you expand your civilization! Just please don't build your factory on top of a mountain, the workers would hate the daily commute!
Wicked Warmonger Or Peace-Loving President...The Choice Is Yours!
A common feature included throughout the Civilization franchise is the interaction between players and the leaders of various other civilizations within the game. In Civilization VI, each leader will have their own unique agendas for their empire, and will make decisions based on these agendas when expanding across the map. This makes each game even more varied, as a leader who focuses on trading during one campaign may focus on global domination in another.
Every leader provides a variety of bonuses for their empire, each one unique to their own civilization. For example, Cleopatra will be the leader of Egypt, and her bonuses include buffing trade routes (providing more gold and food), providing the ability to construct the sphinx (for bonuses to faith and culture), and giving the player access to a unique Egyptian combat unit, the 'Chariot Archer'. Other leaders possess abilities which tailor to their civilization's historic strengths; Queen Victoria of England, for example, helps to increase the effectiveness of a navy-oriented playstyle.
But if there's one thing that players of the Civilization franchise know, it's that you should never trust your fellow leaders. Each of them has a single goal, to win the game with their powerful empire. If you begin forming alliances with city states for example, you may anger a rival civilization who has the same aim! You'll never be able to please everyone in Civilization VI, just make sure you do not, under any circumstances, choose to side against Gandhi...that's a fight you cannot win.
A Blank Canvas...
Along with an excellent array of new features, Civilization VI will also be sporting a brand new, vibrant art style; a change which has caused much controversy among fans of the franchise. In Civilization V, the art style of the game was a lot more saturated, and far less vibrant in its color palette. This gave the game a grittier, more realistic aesthetic design, which appealed to many fans of the series.
Civilization VI, on the other hand, has taken the art style in a new direction as Firaxis Games seek to refresh the series for a new generation of fans. The new color palette is much bolder, and strikingly cartoonish in comparison to previous games in the Civilization franchise. This choice of style has been divisive at best among the Civilization community, with some fans loving the bolder design, whilst others prefer the more realistic style found in Civilization V.
Nevertheless, graphics in a game aren't everything, and whatever your opinion on Civilization VI's new art style, it's still undeniably shaping up to be the defining strategy game experience of 2016!
Exploring The Unknown!
After you spawn into the world for the first time in Civilization VI, you'll have the familiar task of exploring your immediate surroundings, setting up your first city, and then beginning to explore the uncharted territory surrounding your home!
In Civilization V, the unexplored terrain around your land was covered by a thick fog, which only dispersed as a unit moved through the area. Once again, Civilization VI takes a different approach to this, opting instead to mark uncharted territory as a map.
Say goodbye to air pollution forever! The new style of unexplored land in Civilization VI will show a rough map of the area around your land, becoming more visible as your empire expands across the furthest reaches of the world! The land beneath the overlaying map is also revealed as units pass through it, though only while they remain within that area. As they pass through, the area is once again covered by the map, in a similar style to the shadows cast over areas in Civilization V as your units moved through.
Rome Wasn't Built In A Day...But Now It Can Be!
Civilization VI has the potential to make its mark as the definitive strategy game experience for fans both old and new, upon its release on October 21st. With a number of key improvements on its predecessors, alongside a reimagined art style and a bigger focus on preventing repetitive gameplay, the game is certainly shaping up to become a defining entry in the gaming history books.
So, do you wanna build an empire?
For a more in-depth look at the Civilization VI experience, check out the video below, narrated by the one and only Ned St...I mean Sean Bean!
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